Ireland’s Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection has urged small businesses across the country to escalate their preparations for the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU).
The call from Pat Breen follows a recent survey, commissioned by Heather Humphreys’ department for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, which assessed the behaviour and attitudes of small business owners towards the UK’s exit from the EU.
It found that almost three-quarters (72%) of businesses surveyed feel there will be a knock-on effect for their business even in the hopeful event of an orderly departure with a wide-ranging trade deal.
Almost a third (32%) of business respondents admitted they had held back from making key business or investment decisions. However, 17% said they had decided to accelerate their business or investment decisions in a bold bid to take advantage of any potential opportunities of Brexit.
The vital areas of concern for Irish small firms regarding the UK’s decision to relinquish its seat at the EU top table span supply chains, tariffs and customs protocols.
Encouragingly, 60% of Ireland’s small businesses have sought information on the new prospective trading relationship with the UK by attending workshops and applying for supports. This figure is up from 40% when the last survey was taken in March.
Already over a fifth (22%) of SME importers and exporters to the UK envisage working with a customs agent, while another 21% plan to employ someone internally to oversee their customs operations.
Pat Breen, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, said of these figures: “A quarter of firms report that they use the UK land bridge to transit goods to and from EU markets.
“I want to remind these businesses there is a simplified transit customs process for goods using the land bridge, but to avail of it you must put in place a Revenue-approved comprehensive financial guarantee.
“This can take time, so I urge businesses to start this process with their financial provider and Revenue straight away.
“You can do it yourself or get your customs agent or logistics company to do it for you but start the process now to be ready in time.”